Alumni spotlight: Jonathan Shaver

1995, M.S.; 1997, Ph.D. Plant Breeding

Advisor: Dr. Burle Gengenbach

Current organization/ employer:
Self-employed, Envision Partners

Favorite memory of campus:
My favorite memory of campus, besides hours in the library studying, were walking across the fields on the St. Paul campus. The entire campus felt like a park that could be explored.

Why did you choose CFANS as a college?
I looked at a lot of schools for my graduate studies. I ultimately chose the University of Minnesota and CFANS for the quality of the research. I had an excellent research professor and a research project of great interest to me, but I also knew I would exposed to a lot of really, really bright and creative people in classes, and in seminars in my fellow graduate students.

Why do you think the University of Minnesota is great?
My primary exposure to the University is through the research programs. The quality of the University of Minnesota I find most valuable is the combination of depth and breadth. CFANS has a lot of individual experts that provide the depth, but through the right balance, these deep thinkers are connected in a way that adequately balances basic research with applied research, providing the breadth.

Career information/ professional achievements:

  • Monsanto--Research Scientist focused on nutritional quality in corn
  • Oklahoma State University--Asst/Assoc. Professor in Plant and Soil Sciences with a 100% teaching appointment
  • North Hennepin Community College-Professor of Biology in a 100% teaching appointment (Four transfer graduates of CFANS)

What's your passion? What do you love about your work and your field?
My passion is people. I took a long way around to make that my career, but throughout I have always been focused on helping people. I have continued to combine my scientific skills and helping people learn. Today, I own my own company, Envision Partners. We focus on the growth and development of people in the most advanced agricultural technology companies. It's about people helping people.

How did your education at the U of M help prepare you for what you are doing today?
I can draw a line from every job I have had directly to my experience at the University of Minnesota. As a graduate student I did a lot of research, but I was also a teaching assistant, an undergraduate club advisor, Ag in the Classroom outreach coordinator, graduate club president and intramural softball team captain. All of those experiences continue to influence me today.

What advice do you have for current students (and future alumni?)
It's about skills you have, not content you know. Pay attention to the methods/tools/abilities/skills you are using to learn the content. Content is important.

Skills get you that content and skills are more transferable. You will encounter many new jobs, roles and challenges. It will be the skills that help you learn the content you need to be successful in those new challenges.